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Defensive turnovers are fueling the Buccaneers offense

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Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There was a massive offensive outpouring in Tampa. The 36 points against the Chicago Bears are the highest point total produced by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. Just looking at the points scored per quarter, it would look as though the Bucs' offense is a juggernaut.

This is not so.  On my 2nd quarter offensive report card, I discovered an underlying trend -€” the offense is still struggling to produce points from afar. The first quarter report had the Bucs' offense averaging 18 points per game. For the second quarter report, the Bucs' offense was averaging 25.8 points per game, a total of 103 points.

Bucs' Offense
Drives less than 50 yards
Scoring Opportunities
Team Turnover Type LOS RZ Result Points Qtr Total Pts
1 Atl 0
2 Ari 0
3 LA 1 Def Fumble 43 yd line 1 FG 3
4 Den 0
5 Car 1 ST Punt Rec 39 yd line 1 Missed FG 0
6 SF 1 ST Punt Rec 36 yd line 1 FG 3
1 Def Fumble 27 yd line 1 TD 7
7 Oak 1 Def Fumble 34 yd line 1 TD 7
0 Punt 47 yd line 1 TD 7
8 Atl 1 Def Fumble 19 yd line 1 TD 7

Remove the 31 points from 103 total second quarter points scored and the result will be 72 points. The average over four games of 72 points would be 18 points per game.

Let us look at the drives for the Chicago game.

Chicago Defense vs Bucs Offense
Qtr Drive Plays Yards Result RZ Pts 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives Totals
1 1 3 9 Punt 0
2 4 17 Punt 0
3 2 -16 Int 0
4 11 39 Punt 0
5 4 29 TD 1 7 0
6 8 41 FG 1 3 1 1
Half Half
7 4 77 TD 7 1 1
8 11 52 FG 1 3 1 1
9 3 1 Punt 0
10 17 62 TD 1 7 1 1
11 3 8 Punt 0
Total 11 70 319 4 27 1 1 1 1 0 4

The offense generated 27 of the 36 points.  Drives five and six started on the short side of midfield for the Bucs' offense, which created 10 points. That puts the offense producing 17 points from afar, supporting the Drives less than 50 yards Scoring opportunities average when excluded from the total scoring..

Drive five happened after the defense forced a fumble at the Chicago 29 yard line.

Drive six happened because of the special teams and defensive play. Apparently, K Roberto Aguayo mortar kicked the ball and Bucs' gunner, reserve CB Josh Robinson tackled the Bears' kick returner at the 10 yard line. Then the defense induced a 3-and-out for the Bears offense at the Chicago 10 yard line. Buc's punt returner Adam Humphries called for a fair catch at the Chicago 47 yard line.

While everyone is happy about the offensive scoring and Winston receiving several accolades after this past game, the trend for the offense is still atrocious, scoring only 17 points on long drives.

There is one caveat, though, drive 10 was nearly a 10 minute drive! There are only 15 minutes per quarter!  Granted, the score was 29 -€” 10, Bucs, but that was an impressive drive nonetheless.

One extra note about that drive 10, it started at the TB 38 yard line after a 9 yard return. That means the ball was received at the 29 yard line. Why should that matter? It matters because the Bears were forced to kick off from the 20 yard line as opposed from the 35 yard line. The reason the Bears had to kick it off from the 20 yard line was because the defense forced a safety on the Bears' offense. It was a safety because Bryan Anger pinned the ball down inside the five yard line and Josh Robinson stuck the returner at the 2 yard line.

Since the distance traversed by the offense was over 50 yards, I did not include it for the "Drives less than 50 yards" chart which was enabled by the defense, special teams, or both. Starting near midfield has less pressure than starting at your 10 yard line.

Explosive Plays

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Explosive Plays
Game 9, Chicago
Drive Run (12+ yards) Pass (16+ yards) Drive Result
4 Shorts, 22 Punt
Winston, 17
5 Brate, 16 TD
6 Shorts, 16 FG
7 Evans, 39 TD
Martino, 43

There was not an explosive play on Drive 10, the 10 minute drive, which resulted in a touchdown.

Top 4 Metrics

Koetter's Top 4 Metrics, T4M: (I have altered #3 to include TFL's as another aspect of OLine failures.)

1.  Reduce Turnovers:                  1 (1 INT)

2.  Create explosive plays:          Runs > 12 yards = 1 ; Passes > 16 yards = 5

3.  Reduce sacks & TFLs:            4 Sacks;  9.5 TFLs

4.  Be great on third downs:        8 -€” 15 (53.3% successful rate)

From the T4M, it seems only metric 1 was met. The TFL stat implies the offensive line had little push and needs to improve quickly with whomever is starting on the offensive line if any running back is to have success in the game.


If one looks deep behind the scoring by the quarter results, it reveals the Bucs' offense is still struggling to generate points without any help from the defense or special teams. Also, the offense went 2 for 4 in the Red Zone. In a close game, those missing eight points might have mattered, like in the Raiders' game.

Winston's weaving exposed how deficient an offensive line can be when two starting positions are populated with a project rookie and practice squad center. That scramble and volley bailed out the offense on a third and 10, with the first possession out of half time. Not exactly how things are drawn up, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

Nonetheless, the struggle to create offense exists. The defense and special teams do not receive enough praise in assisting in propping up the offense's scoring output.